School board discusses Superintendent’s leadership abilities and leak of his self-evaluation

School Board Chair Tina Certain and Member Diyonne McGraw discuss Superintendent Shane Andrew at the May 1 workshop | From YouTube broadcast, Alachua Chronicle


GAINESVILLE, Fla. – During a discussion at today’s workshop about the process for selecting a permanent superintendent, board members discussed the leak of Superintendent Shane Andrew’s self-evaluation and set a target date of November 30 for the hiring of a new superintendent.

The purpose of the workshop was to learn about how the selection process would unfold with the board’s selected consultant, the Florida School Boards Association. As the timeline discussion concluded, Chair Tina Certain said she favored moving forward with finding a new superintendent: “Over the past year, I don’t think that leadership has been there to direct the staff.” She said that although staff members should be expected to do their jobs, “what I’ve experienced is, folks will be hesitant to move if they’re not getting direction.”

Certain said former Superintendant Owen Roberts (who was hired in 2014 and resigned in 2016 after criticisms about improper citations in a book he wrote) had come in with a plan and had “set clear expectations.” She said Roberts didn’t get his plans from the board: “He said it himself as to where he wanted to see the district go.” Certain continued, “He was a true leader in the sense of being able to know what it takes to drive organizational change. I don’t think we have that.” Certain said that they’ve “lost a year of time and not had any measurable or any true progress, in my view, towards goals… If we just keep waiting around, the children aren’t going to benefit… So we can either sit around and stay the course with the person we have, to say, ‘Oh, we’re gonna let him fix it.’ And then we bring someone else new in. Man, people are gonna run us out of Alachua County.”

Member Diyonne McGraw disagreed, saying any new superintendent or interim superintendent will “inherit the same district staff that the current superintendent has” and that the “data has not moved” in ten years. She agreed that “there are children who are failing, there are children who have failed. But to say that one person has caused all of this, I’m not gonna sit here and agree with that.” She said that having three superintendents in 2.5 years shows that the district is “unstable.”

McGraw continued, “All I’m saying is, don’t sit here and try to destroy a person and talk about what they failed to do over and over again, when they inherited.” She said she was getting a lot of calls “about nothing because people get stuff misconstrued… and it gets all over, and it gets in the paper. And it’s the wrong message that we continue to send. I’m not saying we don’t move forward, but I’m saying let’s not sit here and try to destroy someone.”

Certain responded that she wasn’t blaming anybody, “But the point of the matter is, the superintendent gets the vision from the board members, right? And the superintendent has to direct the staff, right? And then he has to hold them accountable if they don’t do it, but if he doesn’t direct them, and… they don’t push down a vision or bring a team together and build a team–because the next person that comes in is going to have staff, they can’t clean house… meaning get rid of everybody. But that’s up to the superintendent.”

McGraw agreed that it’s time for a change, but “every time it’s time for a change, we start pointing fingers and trying to destroy people.” Certain said she thought McGraw was “misconstruing what–I’m not trying to destroy anybody.”

McGraw responded, “I’m not saying maybe specifically you–when we, what I’m saying is when we are sharing information… sharing stuff that you have not been asked to share yet, that may not be public, that’s what I’m saying.”

Apparently referring to Facebook posts that described Andrew’s self-evaluation, Certain said someone had called her about information that wasn’t public, but only school board members and three or four staff members had access to the information: “Someone had to disclose it.” She said the board needed to be careful about getting distracted by disagreements because that takes the focus off the students.

Member Kay Abbitt says the district is “a mess… I’m not talking about the disagreement. I’m talking about the fact that something like the self-assessment got out somehow… and only seven people knew about it. Well, I sure didn’t send it out… I can’t even imagine the other board members doing that… Even though we disagree, I think we all have very high ethical standards… I can’t imagine either of [two staff members] ever doing that. And so where did it come from?”

Member Sarah Rockwell said, “I know. I have that question, too.”

Abbitt said that when that happens, “social media goes crazy” and people start talking about the board and the superintendent instead of “all those little kids at Rawlings that have a substitute teacher… we’re focusing on this stupid stuff [instead].”

Member Leanetta McNealy requested a board retreat for “unification… I want this board, before I say goodbye, to be unified.” She wanted more meetings in general to “have this opportunity to square up and explain” and give board members the opportunity to understand each others’ points of view.

During the previous discussion, some board members had wanted a new superintendent to start on January 1, 2024, to get past the focus on rezoning during the fall, and some wanted the new superintendent to start on October 30. The consultant recommended splitting the difference and aiming for a new superintendent by November 30.

McNealy said she favored October because “tomorrow night, we will be doing the evaluation of the superintendent and the contract. Normally, when all of that occurs, someone is dismissed as superintendent.” She said she didn’t know how the vote would go, but if Andrew is dismissed, they would need another interim superintendent, “and the quicker we can get someone in here who will be in charge of this district, is why I want the October date. The sooner the better.”

Certain decided that November 30 should be the target date to complete the search for a new superintendent.

  • They should get rid of the whole School Board, along with the Superintendent!

  • Oh my—-shaking my head! After over 30 years of teaching in other Florida counties & overseas, we need a miracle in Alachua county.

  • If it is of any interest, former superintendent Carlee Simon has finally gotten a job; as a Dean in a small college in Juneau, ALASKA.

    • Thank goodness, as long as it is far away from here. Feel bad for Alaska but at least it is a college and a small one

    • she’s been appointed as an interim dean, i.e. place holder, until they find someone qualified. Still, I’d gladly hold the place myself in exchange for the reams of Alaska taxpayer cash she’s probably getting dumped into her bank account in the meantime.

    • She can make everybody wear their masks and get vaccinated whenever a new booster comes out.

  • Beware!! Remember the three board members who swiftly moved to bring in Carly Simon. We do not need another like her. Many of us worked too hard to get rid of her to make another move. Shane Andrew has been like a breath of fresh air after having dealt with Simon. Leave him where he is.

  • It sure seems like all this McNealy lady wants to do is hold “retreats”.

    No wonder why that place is a mess.

    • She likes the catered meals, being served like the royalty she thinks they are.

  • How can such a dysfunctional school board ever focus on a basic, disciplined reading , writing and math agenda? Not Wokesville without Law and Order. Remove any type of school board compensation and lets see who really wants to help the kids. What utter failures for quite some time now.

  • At this point just homeschool!… or anything but government school.
    Public schools are a lost cause

  • 30 year local educator chiming in.

    While there may have been some semblance of a direction with Roberts, morale was hit incredibly hard under his leadership, and then Simon (as a puppet of the then board) drove it into the ground. While current board members may remember Roberts fondly, I reflect on his tenure as divisive, ego-driven, and dishonest. It is amazing that nobody talks about the blatant nepotism that landed a family member in the driver’s seat of Roberts’ massive push for robotics.

    As for a portion of this board, they will continue to throw their weight around to forward their own narrow and narrow-minded agenda. Nothing surprises me any longer…except the suggestion from McNealy that they go on a retreat under the banner of unity. Please don’t yet again slap educators on the front lines in the face with such tone-deaf notions.

    I think Abbitt said it best when she referred to the district as a “mess.”

    • Regarding Tim’s allegation that “they will continue to throw their weight around …” I am concerned that some of these board members indeed have superabundant weight to throw around. There was a time in America when students were taught about nutrition and exercise and obesity was rare. Now it seems that this kind of education has been abandoned because the “educators” and board members know nothing about the subject, subsisting on a diet of fast junk food, Twinkies, Milky Ways and Big Gulp sodas. Perhaps they set a bad example for our kids, who themselves seem to have largely degenerated into a bunch of ill-behaved, entitlement oriented, ignorant lard butt slobs. Evidently leading by example has been abandoned by our so-called educators and the school board members who oversee their activities. Thus America has become an idiocracy populated by knuckle-dragging fat troglodytes.

      • Kids are today for multiple cultural reasons: afraid to go outside, afraid to mess up hairdos getting sweaty, junk food food deserts, and watching screens whenever possible. But mostly from parents used to somebody else carrying the slack, raised that way too.

      • Being taught about nutrition, obesity and exercised are no longer allowed because the curriculum is to focus on reading, math, science, etc. our governor has made that very clear.

        • Please fill us in on your Bogus Wokesville whining statement.

    • And there are 2 board members who are directly responsible for spewing out the majority of the excrement the rest of the district has to put up with.
      Who would have ever thought McGraw would be the one who exhibited the greatest rationale, the recognition and common sense issues within the district.
      Waiting on her to actually call out those 2 board members for what they really are. It appears, at least from a parent’s perspective, McGraw has the best interests of our children and the district, and not a personal vendetta or agenda as her top priority.

      • Mc Fraud is still a suspected Thief taking money while on office by apparent fraud. They all need to go.

    • Your experience as an educator here aside, Abbit went on to say:

      “.. I can’t even imagine the other board members doing that… Even though we disagree, I think we all have very high ethical standards…”

      As the only commentator here who’s post can’t be summarized as “Hey you black people and democrats, get off my yard!”, do you have suggestions for who should be super?

      • Well if you aren’t the pot calling the kettle black. You may want to take another look at some of the comments before making that conclusion. That being said, what is wrong with the current superintendent? Seems he’s been doing a pretty good job; hasn’t fallen prey to certain ideologies and he’s definitely familiar with the district personnel as well as the student population.

        It’s apparent that some people’s definition of “high” aren’t quite as high as others are they?

        Nice for you to comment since you conveniently failed, or didn’t have any rational truths, to inject your own political views into the “GRU Rates Highest in the State” article. Some missed your banter.

        • Yes, I saw that GRU customers are paying $5 more a month than those liberals in Leesburg. Perhaps if we average what Alachua rates are with GRU rates – both provided by GRU, we would get a more fair picture of rate comparisons. Perhaps you missed Hinson’s offered amendment for those in the county who want to get out of GRU to be able to, which of course means you wouldn’t be able to complain anymore. Apparently Clemons would rather complain and take over something he’ll never win control of it in an election. What’s your excuse?

          • No excuse, just an explanation. There’s a bunch of idiots who don’t understand what they’re voting for.
            Count yourself into that group.

          • Looking at all these comments, Is it any wonder that our school board has trouble governing? When constituents hurl insults and resort to name calling nobody wins. Especially our children.

          • Maybe they should use their education to read the comments instead of turning a blind eye and deaf ear to those constituents. We see what happens when they don’t…(GRU).

  • He’s not enough of a “maverick”? That sounds crazy. Those ladies just want to talk and talk instead of getting things done rapidly. That’s why they don’t end up coming up with their own plan. They are always stuck in the mud on some equity vs. magnet programs imaginary issue or some other stupid thing. Of course students should be allowed to excel to whatever extent possible. That probably means gifted programs and some magnet programs. We need real results from those students with the ability to achieve (without bonus points for skin color or other woke foolishness). The lady in the mask looks ridiculous. She should read the latest studies about permanent damage caused by mask-wearing. She looks like maybe it’s too late.

    • Right on….that face mask does nothing. You cannot communicate.effectively if we can’t see facial expressions….it’s the social justice flag…only hypochondriacs, nut jobs, Marxists, and criminals who don’t want to be identified wear them…
      The people who wear them are truly sick in the head. Trust in god, not that diaper.

      • Mr Pink, the tens of thousands of unvaxxed people dying in ICUs in 2021 – I know 2 docs personally who treated them and tried to keep them alive – no doubt appealed to God to get them out of there as so surely did their relatives. Your beliefs aside, waiting for God to take care of anything is like waiting for the tooth fairy to deliver.

        • It is speculative at best to inject COVID history in the conversation as CDC even concedes its data is flawed due to overzealous reporting by hospitals and coroners. Traffic fatalities were counted as COVID deaths because victims might have had the virus.

          So, waiting for government to do anything meaningful based on something more than polls and political narrative is a very long wait.

          Where school boards fit into all this? Maybe a ladder step above dog catcher.

        • That’s why He works in ways that are both mysterious and beyond our understanding. He also does it in His time, not ours.

          • Sorry, I don’t have the time for that silliness. None of us do.

          • Sure thing Jizzman, of course you don’t. Yet here you are with time to keep your hee hawing.

            Bray on!

        • Jazzhole: You’re a fricken idiot. Believe that
          Gobellian big lie. You always get
          tons of thumbs down. How did you manage before the scamdemic? My immune system works just fine. You’re a control freak. Everyone who needs a mask because they have a compromised immune system gets a pass. You can put that Vax passport & great reset up your rear end you progressive Marxist A-hole.

        • Jazz, don’t you know the FDA and Big Pharma prohibit public reports of jab side effect deaths and injuries? Same as with the abortion pill, the Dem media colludes to NOT inform the public of the Rx death and morbidity from side effects. Fact.

          • Sure Jeff, it’s all a big conspiracy, but they couldn’t fool you. Hey, the thousands of doctors and scientists who work at the CDC, UF, and all the national and international institutes are all quick buck artists who took the easy classes in college so they could cash in on the suckers. But hey, you got their number!

          • They are.

            I submit that the decisions Physicians made at the beginning of the pandemic (stuffing ventilators down peoples throats) ultimately killed many more than would have otherwise happened.

            Hospitals and their administrations bought into the hype that this was the second coming of the bubonic plague – when it wasn’t. Then, when they were proven wrong (as you are …) – instead of admitting it and taking the result like a man – they’d rather save face like Baghdad Bob.

            No wonder why so many have lost faith in our medical system – especially those run by academic health centers.


    • You’re right, to many of us she does look ridiculous but it is her choice to wear the mask. Isn’t that what many of us argued for during Covid, the opportunity to make that choice for ourselves? It’s past time to stop admonishing and ridiculing those who choose to wear one. (You want to chuckle about it to yourself, have at it.) Only one of the three pictured are wearing one.
      We won that battle, leave it at that.

        • Why don’t your links cover Sweden and Africa? 🤡🤬🍦🍦🍦🍦🧐🤔

        • Now if you could enlighten us with those who died because of Covid rather than those who died with Covid you may get more empathy. Then there were those who forced lockdowns but didn’t think those rules applied to them.

          Go a little further and tell us how many were due to those classified as high risk. You know, obesity, old age and respiratory issues are but a couple.

          I prefer listening to DeSantis quacking than your braying but whatever floats your boat.

      • She looks like she needs some fat-shaming to go along with the mask-shaming. Maybe someone should tell her to go out in the sun more, too. I miss the days when ‘snapping’ was not only acceptable but generally beneficial to all members of the group. Now, we have fat little butterball boys with boobs, and no no is supposed to say anything.

  • Just hire an experienced prison warden. For the board members too, not just the schools.

  • Jennifer, I think you have mis-filed this story. I think this is the one were doing on rejected try-outs for The View.

    Abbot: “…and only seven people knew about it.”

    Yeah, go ahead and blame the dwarfs…..

  • School board goes through superintendents like castor oil through a toddler.
    One wrong move and they suddenly become toxic. Maybe look more closely at their background before you hire them.

    • Voters should at least look more closely at the board members they vote for.
      Some have no experience in education, others have been mediocre educators at best, (that’s even debatable), credentials touted by some call into question how those were obtained given their lack of success, and still others seek only to further a certain agenda rather than what they were elected to accomplish.

  • I can’t believe these clowns oversee a half billion dollar budget. Not sure if the board or the budget is more insane.

  • The school board should have kept Owen Roberts. He was the the school board has ever had. The color of his skin was what the people didn’t like.
    Sad to say, but we need to pray more and support our school board members.

    • Been praying…for better, less divisive board members. Some know that God works in mysterious ways though, in His timeframe.

      • I’m not knocking praying…I think it’s great. However, I think this is on the citizens…I don’t know why God would intervene when only 29.8% of voters make an effort to cast a vote for the school board members (8/23/2022 election). We have a way out of this mess locally, but I’m not convinced enough people care yet!

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